Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Innkeeper's Vacation--Part 4

Pictured above: Cliff (a Nurse helping save the world in Doctors Without Borders--just back from Haiti!), the innkeeper (me), and friends and guests at the 2nd Anniversary Party and Gallery Show--April 28, 2010.

Greetings, Blog Friends.

JB, my visiting friend from San Francisco, wanted to hang the art work he had painted on his visit to Western Maine. Well....the thought of hanging art on walls developing into a lavish event for 60 guests became apparent quickly, but came with mixed feelings. The 2nd Anniversary Party and Gallery Show had become another folder on my desk!

First, when it an innkeeper closes down an inn (insert multitude of reasons here), it is usually for some "R&R." My friend was coming to visit, I had some projects that required his creative assistance, and physically I was starting to fizzle out (not a good sign before the busy Summer and Fall). The added duties of developing a guest list of friends and business associates, planning a menu, buying all that food, prepping it, serving it, cleaning up after it...well, you get the point! It was like driving a car across country with "E" glowing on your car's dashboard!

Planning the menu with JB was a joy. I enjoyed this portion the most. He is experienced in the kitchen and can toss back and forth foodie ideas easily with me. I've written about party planning many times in the past and I always say: "Keep it simple but with WOW!" Wow can mean "tasty," "forward thinking," "presented it a really cool way," or "this food reminds me of __________." I live for all of these, of course!!

Anyhow, blending JB's West Coast influence with my American Home Cooking passion--and intending on a Springtime menu, our menu included: Shredded Chicken Tostadas (those George Foreman grills are great!), Spring Soup Shots (cold & deliciously fruity with a Post-Prohibition splash of Kirsch liqueur), Bacon Wrapped Fresh Pineapple with Maple Drizzle (ye olde stand-by), and Maine Potato Cakes with Tomato Compote. Our food production methods were a little different--I led, he led, I prepped his vegetables, etc. We "danced" as a well-oiled machine during the production. Two days of prep for a two hour party! (Attention Inn Shoppers: "We're selling flavorful dishes full of Love here!" LOL).

The party happened, long story short. My Mom and my oh-so-cool friends, the Pinkhams (former owners of Inn at Long Lake), the plumbers, and the friends of my friends all gave my heart a feeling of being so blessed. They showed up to celebrate my 2nd Anniversary. Heck! They helped me get here in the first place! My part was actually easy---it was to thank them all for being there and for being a part of my dream. JB, the staff, and I cleaned it up, reflected over a late night cocktail all the laughs and conversations the night had held for us. I slept well that night.

JB's amazing artwork now hangs in Inn at Long Lake. I will try to post these on this Blog. Until then, our front door welcomes you always and you can see them in person!!

Until the next Blog posting----Thanks so much for reading and think of a nice party for those who give your Life so much more!

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Nice Note our Weekend Guests

I received a lovely e-mail from a couple who visited Inn at Long Lake this past weekend. This couple has a 3 and 5-year old at home---and while I know they were not far from their thoughts--I was hoping they would "relax" into the inn's ambience.

Here is the note:

Hi Keith,Let me start off by saying a HUGE Thank You! We had such a wonderful time. It could not have been any better. Rooms were gorgeous, service was impeccable and the food just goes without saying. If you ever branch out and open a restaurant we will be your first customers. Everything was beyond perfection!

Again, thank you so very much for a fabulous time. It could not have been better.

Bob and Laura B.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Innkeeper's Vacation--Part 3

Greetings to Everyone!

In the last blog posting I was starting my vacation. JB, my friend from San Francisco, had arrived and I was starting to relax from "all things required to get the inn ready for 2010."

Jane, a lovely lady friend of ours (a C.P.A. in the area), suggested we take JB out to a posh dinner in Portland. I thought this a good idea! Jane made a reservation at Fore Street, one restaurant I have heard many good things about, but had never tried. JB is a dear friend and well worth the splurge (I knew this place was on the higher end of dining).

I was the Designated Driver that evening (never drink and drive, my friends!). We arrived a little before our reservation time. Having worked in restaurants most of my life, it is fun (and in a way odd) to analyze the dynamic and process of a restaurant in action. The open kitchen concept of Fore Street was interesting---and I was impressed at the professionalism of the staff.

My friends enjoyed their food. I, however, ordered a thick cut (locally raised) pork chop that was inedible. Now....I am not a complainer but given the $32.00 price tag, I pointed out the rather large "fat cap" on the portion (over an inch thick!). My server was cordial, apologized, and within no time I received my second choice--a beautifully cooked, thick, juicy Swordfish Steak.

All in all, this particular Sunday evening was wonderful. Despite the first attempt on the entree course (things get overlooked), the company, service, ambience, and food was delightful. JB was happy--and giving that to a friend (or an inn guest) is my idea of "happiness."

The vacation was only just beginning as we drove back to the Lakes Region. A night with friends--truly the "stuff" that makes Life even better--was another fond foodie & being-with-friends memory.

Catch you soon!

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Innkeeper's Vacation--Part 2

(Pictured above: Me trying to be a "touch Brando type." hahaha).

Hello, Foodie Friends!

Part 2 of my vacation from Inn at Long Lake found this innkeeper attending a Chamber of Commerce "After Hours" at a local business called "Custom Motorsports." My business has membership in two chambers (Naples being in the middle) so 2 times a month there is an opportunity to learn about fellow business people in the community, and to represent the inn, also.

Custom Motorsports is a wonderful business that retails items for the motorcycle and jet ski enthusiast. Having driven by the business many times in the past, I thought it a cool place for my visiting friend, JB, to socialize with the local business community.

That day was busy but I made time to bake a couple dozen of my favorite inn cookies to wish the business owners "best of luck." They appeared almost shocked when I (humbly) gave the cookies to them. (I've always been of mind to bring a gift for the host.) The cookies were scoffed up as JB, I, and our friends mingled with other area business owners.

I spent some of the evening speaking with the two men who operate The Divemasters (, a local business that teaches people how to dive. They operate in both Sebago Lake and the Atlantic Ocean! What a unique idea! I commented (with their permission) on the marketing materials they handed me, gladly giving them encouragement to keep their enthusiasm, consider some insights into their marketing (no one likes to be told what to do), and wished them all the best. I hope to establish a unique relationship with them for the benefit of scuba-curious visitors to the area.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening. It was nice to see a totally different business marketing the things that are essential to business success: passion and enthusiasm.

The weather has turned cooler here in Western Maine this evening and I look forward to making some Maine Blueberry Pancakes for my guests in the morning. I hope everyone's weekend was fun!

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert


Inn at Long Lake

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Innkeeper's Vacation--Part I

(Pictured above: Me standing on the shores of Raymond Beach (Raymond, Maine).

Greetings, Blog Readers!

A couple of weeks ago I put the "No Vacancy" sign up in front of Inn at Long Lake and with a sigh of decompression plopped my feet up on the couch. April is a perfect month to get outside Spring yard work done, demand can warrant closing the doors for a while, and in proximity to the upcoming busy Summer and Fall, I have time to think creatively.

Innkeepers really never go on "vacation." We think of our inns in the same way parents (hardest job on the Earth, I believe!) show constant concern over their children. Having said that, my vacation was a variety of work, laughter, soul-searching, and fun.

My dear friend, JB, from San Francisco arrived 3 days after the shutdown. He is a brilliant photographer, artist, and creative spirit. We had a long list of cooking, gardening, and decor projects that kept us busy--and, at times, stressed (the good type of stress). JB loves the inn and the inn kitchen (it is larger and better equipped than his in San Fran) so daily I was treated to prepared meals while I worked and watched television. The man is a master of vegetables and how to bring out flavors and freshness.

My "days off" (what's that??!! haha) were very cool and I hope to share with you some of the moments in the next few postings. After 14 days, a fair share of Bacardi and white wine, and the company of a fellow creative spirit, I am revved up/"totally stoked"/excited over the busy year ahead.

Life is a "hoot" when you are doing what you love. That was my intention for my time off from the inn. I look forward to sharing with you my personal Foodie adventures--they were happy treasures in the path of those 2 weeks. They bring a smile to my face...and quite possibly, yours, too. Oh, I thought of all you blog followers/readers during my time away, too (Yippee! 2300 hits in 2 years!).

Catch you soon with all the groovy, wild details!

Keith A. Neubert


Naples, Maine